(by Jane Patterson)
1600 hrs Monday,14th July
Place: Göktur Sitesi, AKYAKA
people are outside on the grass beside my German neighbour’s garden.
‘Can you come and look
at something?’ I join them and there in the passion fruit creeper
is a half metre reptile . (Have they asked me because I lived
in Africa so many years I ask myself) … it’s certainly
wildlife but WHAT IS IT?
‘It was eating my
hibiscus plant …,’ Doris, a very keen gardener tells me.
‘Is it a chameleon?’
asks my upstairs neighbour Ali. (This is much bigger and
chameleons don’t have little sharp spine needles running down their
backs – nor do they have a sort of leathery beard that seems to
expand …. Is it some sort of monitor lizard? I muse)
‘I know who to ask’ I
say brightly … and phone Heike on my cep. She asks if it looks like
some sort of dinosaur …. Mmm … maybe – but not quite….
coming,’ she says and 5 minutes later she and Thomas arrive – now we
should get some answers.
We all agree it isn’t
a native of Turkey so we open up Google on the computer and after 5
minutes we discover it’s a small Iguana (Leguan in German) and we
have established that it is a herbivore and unlikely to BITE and
that its only method of defence is lashing with its tail. (I’ve shut
my cat indoors while we establish these facts – Cleo is well known
for her audacity and curiosity) Also Iguanas can grow to 2.5 m but
in captivity not more than 1.5.
Heike has already
fallen in love with it and Thomas is looking doubtful thinking of
the menagerie at home!
Thomas then tells us
that Iguanas are kept as pets and maybe someone visiting Akyaka on
holiday has decided it’s too big now to take home and has ‘dumped
it’. His reasoning is sound because every year a certain number of
pets come on holiday here from Izmir or Istanbul or Ankara and
seeing so many well cared for street dogs in our village, the pet is
not a passenger on their return journey at the end of the
Thomas be right – has someone dumped it – is this Akyaka’s FIRST
STREET REPTILE? A large tortoise is enjoying the grass around us –
hmmm has that been dumped too?
upstairs neighbours have gone now but ‘Doggy Yasemin’ is on her way
after another cep call – she’ll have some ideas.
Just before she
arrives we try to look more closely into the creeper where it is
hiding and some sudden movement makes it change course and scuttle
up into the palm tree – at some considerable speed we note, thinking
of future attempts to catch it.
For the next half hour
we mull over the options …
Heike can take it home ….
can find a more suitable habitat
Belediye can make an announcement and someone might claim it …
option 2 is practical and we all agree that leaving it in a ‘site’
in holiday time is not a good idea. Last year another neighbour’s
grandchildren found a harmless little snake and within days the
bahçıvan had been
told to put down poison and the only ‘victim’ was a very large tabby
cat who had bled through its skin upon dying and ended up on my
balcony as a bloody mess …. A new habitat is the answer.
Finally Yasemin phones
Hasan the vet in Kozlukuyu and within 10 minutes he arrives in his
green uniform with Salda in her spotless white uniform. Our Iguana
friend is now ‘sunbathing’ on a huge palm leaf looking very much at
home on its ‘sunlounger’!
We try to decide how
to get hold of it and also find something suitable to put it in.
Our reptile friend has got wind of our actions and somehow falls out
of the palm tree and into a lemon tree below. The first bag we have
isn’t big enough and it makes a rapid escape through the smallest of
holes. It takes up residence on Doris’ balcony. Yasemin rushes off
to find a cat cage …. Hasan has come up with the plan to call his
friend who has collected a few unusual animals and might be just the
person to accept this fascinating reptile. Thomas finds a gübre* bag
and Heike and Hasan start again. The Iguana’s lashing tail goes into
action as Heike grasps it (but it’s not big enough to hurt
fortunately) and we then see that it has lost one of its front legs
but this has clearly been done by a surgeon so it MUST have (or had)
an owner ….
We all set off along the path towards the road.
Hasan is holding the gübre bag with one hand and talking to his
friend, who might take it for us, on his mobile. He’s explaining that
he has an Iguana etc etc …… and at this point yet another neighbour
comes into our tale.
A young man who, throughout the time we have been
engaged in our reptile pursuit, has been cleaning and working on his
wind-surfing sails which are all laid out in the shade at the back
of the buildings. He is a new-comer to our ‘site’ so we have never
spoken before. He looks up from his work and sees our small party of
Akyaka Hayvan Sevenler* (3.5 Germans, I British and 2.5 Turks) and
has heard what Hasan is saying …
‘Wait a minute – have you found an Iguana …. It
may be mine,’ he calls out.
stops in their tracks. Hasan and Thomas are clearly cautious – they
know the Iguana is quite valuable and has this young man been
watching and listening? Further evidence of ownership is required!
Thinking quickly Thomas asks, ‘How many legs has
your Iguana got?’
‘Three,’ Serdar Bey replies and we all look at
each other in astonishment and burst out laughing. For about one
and a half hours we have been debating the why’s and where fore's and
how to protect our new found prize, and all along its owner was but
20 metres away working on his wind-surfing sails!
Serdar tells us that usually the Iguana lives on
the upstairs balconies and in the house (does the landlord know?)
and has never before ventured out!
So everyone goes home and Heike is heartbroken,
Thomas relieved and I’m wondering whether I shall see my scaly
neighbour again sunning himself on the palm leaves?
Thomas was right – the Iguana DID have an owner after all!